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Marketing and Biz Dev Training for Litigators

A marketer asked whether litigators require unique marketing and client-development training.

She’d been hearing from the litigators that they felt the nature of a litigation practice is somehow different, that it requires special techniques and training. They had a firm retreat approaching and wondered how to help them.

I was a litigator before migrating to marketing and heard the same thing in our group meetings.

It was easy for litigators who didn’t have business to look longingly at the corporate lawyers who seemed able to generate an ongoing stream of deals from a single client.  In contrast, they complained, a company might get sued once, then never need a litigator again. That’s true, obviously.

Today, decades later, I regularly train litigators regarding how to get business, and still I hear the same complaint.  Litigators feel like they always having to look for new one-off clients.Ross Fishman, CLE Ethics presentation in Rome

Further, they have trouble identifying specific audiences or targets, because almost any company could get sued, and for any thing. Therefore, litigators tend to market broadly which is inefficient – i.e. “general commercial litigation” targeting almost any company. They all feel like generalists.

It’s so unfocused that it doesn’t work, which gets frustrating quickly.

Of course, they’re not entirely wrong in feeling this way, but there certainly are ways to address these challenges directly and fairly quickly.  The problem is that they need both marketing AND business development (i.e. “sales”) training.

The marketing training is needed to help them identify precisely WHAT they’re marketing, and TO WHOM.  They need a targeted strategy and significant visibility on the front end.  THEN they need relationship-development or business-development training, so they know how to bring in the business once they’ve identified a specific opportunity.

In other words, business-development training alone isn’t enough for them to actually bring in work — they still miss the first piece, which in many ways is the most important part.  Think about what type of training you can offer them in a firm retreat or practice group meeting.

If through a well-reasoned strategy and great marketing, they have a much better idea of who they are, whom they’re marketing to, and are well known in that area, THEN the biz dev work they need to do happens much faster.

If they see results quickly, they’re likely to keep doing it.

If you improve their BD skills but (1) they’re aimed toward too general or vaguely defined an audience, or (2) they don’t have sufficient visibility or name recognition, then they’ll never obtain the critical mass of contacts necessary to get real business.  Either way, they fail. Like every other practice, they don’t need Marketing OR Business Development; they need both.

That is, they need a strategic combination of:

(1) a narrowly focused target audience,

(2) a clearly defined message and differentiation or USP,

(3) effective marketing for increased visibility and name recognition, and

(4) training to turn all that awareness, visibility, and contacts into business.  

It’s not easy, of course.

But if it were, then everyone would have business, right?